State’s IT standards lauded

25 February 2008

The Mark Shuttleworth Foundation has praised the South African government for applying information technology standards that promote interoperability among public sector computer systems, as well as for its moves toward open source software.

A statement sent by the foundation to Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi recognises standards related to the minimum interoperability standards for information systems (MIOS) in the government.

According to the MIOS document, the standards set out the government’s technical principles and standards for achieving inter-operability and information systems coherence across the public sector.

The MIOS defines the essential pre-requisite for a joined-up and web-enabled government, and next to security, is an essential component in the overall e-Government strategy.

“The standards relate to the minimum standards for how government computers speak to each other,” department spokesperson Lewis Rabkin told BuaNews last week. “The Shuttleworth Foundation also congratulated government on its movement to Open Source Software.”

Open source software
Open source software is software for which users do not have to pay a propriety licence in order to operate the software. To make use of other licensed software, a company or an individual has to pay a propriety licence fee, which many believe to be hefty.

The Shuttleworth Foundation was established in 2001 with the aim of driving social innovation in the field of education believing that everyone has the right to knowledge, spurning the movement towards freely obtainable open source software.

“Commendably the standards include the adoption of the open document format as the de jure standard for electronic documents used by government departments,” the foundation said in its statement. “The foundation believes that the implementation of this standard will greatly enhance interoperability and document management by the South African government.”

As a standard ratified by the International Standards Organisation, the open document format is dynamic and enjoys continuous development by a large and committed open online community.

Mandating the standard is a positive step in implementing the government’s policy for the adoption of open source technologies and offers a good example of how the policy is effectively implemented.

“We understand that the adoption of open standards is integral to government’s commitment to making e-government open to citizens,” reads the statement. “We have every confidence in the relevant government departments, as well as the State Information Technology Agency, tasked with driving the new format adoption and dealing with the practicalities thereof.”

The Public Service and Administration department thanked the foundation for its support, adding that the standardisation on open document format will enhance access to the services that government provides to the people of South Africa through the enhancement of e-government services.

Source: BuaNews